I first want to start off by saying I have not reviewed any prior vehicles but felt compelled to due to the pleasant experiences I have had with my FJ. The most common question I get is "why didn't you just get a jeep" and to be honest they were considered when I was in the market for my next vehicle. There was not one deciding factor in my getting a FJ over a Jeep but rather a list of reasons. I like to research my next vehicle to the fullest extent before investing any sort of money in them. Overall, my personal experiences with Jeep's have been less than satisfactory. I have had a Jeep in the past and was not happy with it. Prior to buying the FJ I drove my buddies 2007 Jeep Rubicon 4x4 for week to see how I liked it. I gave it back within 2 days. It drove like a tractor in that you have to constantly manipulated the steering wheel to get it to track straight at anything over 40mph. It was a dog. The V6 in the Jeep's up until 2010 I believe had absolutely no power. During my brief time driving it we had a small shower and like every Jeep I've known, it leaked. One of the only advantages I could see was the huge availability of aftermarket parts. On to the FJ. I test drove a FJ at a dealer and immediately loved it. Personal preference maybe but it felt more like a machine than any Jeep I had been in. Dealers in my opinion are always overpriced so I got my preapproval from the bank and stalked Craigslist, and AutoTrader until one came up. The FJ's are supremely unique in that they look like nothing else on the road. Jeeps are miniature hummers, 4runners look like mini Sequoias and so on. I wanted something unique that everyone didn't see everyday and I found it in the FJ. The V6 in the FJ initially surprised me with how much get up and go it has. With more horsepower than most Mustangs and Camaros of the same year it makes for a awesome driving experience. I've read reviews of people complaining that Toyota paint is horrible but I must say it is quite the opposite. I personally have a Black FJ and the paint has been easy to upkeep. Easy to wash, wax and buff. Resilient against most things encountered off road like thorns, rocks that have been flung up and the occasional branch popping up. I would definitely recommend getting the roof rack and step up rails as they add style and function. The interior as I'm sure you've read if your here researching FJ's is designed to be washed out with a hose. IE. It is mostly plastic and water resistant cloth. This is one of the best features Ive found yet. IT IS SUPREMELY EASY TO CLEAN. After a weekend at the beach with the dogs, or off-roading you can practically take a hose to it or a broom. With a cloth and a touch of Armour All she looks new. The plastic just about everywhere on the dash is very resilient. The floor and cargo area lack that a bit. Though not soft it tends to scratch if throwing rocks, antique furniture or what have you in the back. Keep in mind this is not a Land Rover, it is made to be used. Not looked at. It is not your prissy leather, and hardwood Jeep. I am 6'2 and a compact 225 and fit great in the front seat. The back is a bit of a squeeze but I'm always driving so who cares. Until your kids grow past 5ft you will be fine. The front is very open and the windshield can be expensive if broken but I've thankfully not had that happen. Many people complain about the lack of visibility when looking back. If you angle your mirrors like it says to do in every DMV book you will be fine. Its not for soccer moms who have kids throwing candy while changing lanes. Like I mentioned before the engine is a great piece of engineering, Toyota literally squeezed every bit of HP they could out of it. If you want more, get a Supercharger, the engine has been built up about as far as it can go. Sure exhaust and a CAI will add 5HP but can you really feel that when you step on it? No. The Oil Capacity is a nuisance at 5.5 quarts, IE you have to buy another quart along with that 5 quart jug. Something that I found notable is that even at 5k miles, the oil is still cleaner than my Mustangs oil after 3k. Better tolerances? I don't know but its worth mentioning. MPG is something people complain about the most. At 55mph at get 24mpg, (automatic w/ 4x4) at 65 20MPGand on long hauls to the coast at 85-95mph I get 17MPG. If your buying the FJ for fuel economy get a Prius instead, its literally a box. Some people report a bump in the transmission after coming to a stop. Supposedly this happens after 100k but at 125k I still have not felt it. Drivetrain seems bulletproof, the fancy A-Trac and locking differential is really handy for getting you out of places where you should of had a second vehicle. Overall I love the FJ. I love the fact that it has true glove box on the drivers side dash and that it has 3 windshield wipers. Toyota dependability can not be beat. I'd buy another one tomorrow if I could drive both at the same time.
I read through a majority of the reviews on the FJ before I bought mine. Every now and then there is a very low rating because of transmission or rear differential/transfer case problems. To those I ask, did you take your stock FJ in mud or water? If the answer is yes, that's why you had these problems. Unfortunately Toyota let the casual offroaders down. The problems you guys are having is because of the differential and transmissions breathers. These breathers let the hot gases/vapors out of your diff/tranny so they don't overheat. The problem is Toyota messed up with the placement. While these breathers are open to keep your parts from overheating, they fail to keep mud and water out.
I have owned Jeeps for the last 30 years so this was a big change and I was a little apprehensive at first at changing my 4X4 ride. Now that I have had the FJ for three months I can say this is the best 4X4 I have ever owned. It four wheels with the best that Jeep has to offer and is much more comfortable to ride in.
I bought my Fj one year ago with 60000 miles, trading in my 4 runner. Have no regrets about it. I have close to 80000 miles on it now and have had no problems at all. Absolutely love this vehicle. If you are thinking about getting one, do not hesitate. You will regeret not owning this fine piece of work.
Reliable, strong, tough, and powerful are the best adjectives to describe an FJ. If you want smooth and comfortable, go with a Mercedes Benz. FJ is an adventure car. When you are in the open country, where you can't find a road or a repeater tower for your cell phone, this Toyota will keep you safe and running. The only alternatives are the Jeep, the Hummer, and the Land Rover. Choosing an FJ or one of these alternatives is a matter of taste. If you can enjoy one of these, you will enjoy the others. You like these if you enjoy feeling the road, wheel noise, driving tall, a sense of power that the roar of an engine against obstacles provides, and the outdoors. Often, I read reviews about these cars that are negative about the noise and roughness of these cars. That makes no sense. You want to feel the road when you are driving off road. The wheel noise means your tires are good for off road. The engine roars because it has such high torque. My FJ is 8 years old and has 120,000 miles. It looks and feels like new, even though I abuse it totally. It gets me through rocks, mud, sand, and marshes. On the road, it accelerates like many sport cars (0 to 60 in about 7 sec). Gas consumption is worse than normal (13 mpg) because of off road tires and my driving habits.